x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 August 2017

Oil output at biggest Libya field said to plummet

'Workers were kept from certain areas for their own safety'

El Feel oil field near Murzuq, Libya. The country's oil output is said to have dropped. Aidan Lewis / Reuters
El Feel oil field near Murzuq, Libya. The country's oil output is said to have dropped. Aidan Lewis / Reuters

Crude production at Libya’s biggest oil field has plunged more than 30 per cent in recent days after two company vehicles were stolen at gunpoint, raising new security concerns at the Opec country’s operations, a person familiar with the matter said.

Output at Sharara was down to 200,000 barrels a day on Sunday, compared with 300,000 barrels a day about a week ago, as workers were kept from certain areas for their own safety, the person said, asking not to be identified. An official for Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp (NOC), which operates the field in a joint venture, was not available for immediate comment.

 

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Sharara has experienced several brief shutdowns caused by different groups.  It was closed for two days in June due to a protest by workers there. Pumping was interrupted for “hours” last week after armed protesters shut some facilities, the NOC said at the time.

Libya’s crude output and exports reached a three-year high last month as fighting among armed militias abated and leaders of the country’s rival administrations agreed in principle on steps to unite the nation. The country with Africa’s largest crude reserves is exempt from Opec supply restrictions.